UN Working Group on Internet Governance: An Insider’s Perspective

Ang Peng Hwa

The few Singaporeans I see in Buffalo are mostly limited to friends and one particular professor in my department, so it was a pleasant treat that I had a chance to meet a fellow Singaporean who came all the way to share his insight right here at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Peng Hwa Ang, Dean of the School of Communication and Information (Nanyang Technological University), presented his insider perspective on the United Nations working group on Internet Governance today at O’Brian building, the Law department.

The talk essentially circled around his experience working in the United Nations on the issue of Internet Governance. It’s fascinating seeing how governments, businesses as well as civil societies come together to find ways to better manage our world. It’s also interesting to note that at such conferences, the process of making agency recommendations is as significant as the substance. Herein lies my raw notes from his presentation:

Peng Hwa Ang
School of Communication and Information
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

3 Oct 2005
SUNY-Buffalo, NY

What is Internet Governance

.iq coincidentally taken offline because the Iraqi overseeing it was jailed

UN consisted of
17 Government
10 Business
13 Civil Society
Details available on wgig.org

1. Issues papers
– almost half on ICANN-related issues)
– mostly on highly charged issues
2. Clusters of Issues
3. Use text from clusters to develop a final report
4. Unanimous 15pg report and 80pg report

Book Blurb
Ang, Peng Hwa. 2005
Ordering Chaos: Regulating the Internet
Singapore: Thomson
– Argues that Internet can be, should be, and is being regulated

WGIG Process
Open & Closed meetings
– slowly became more open, to a point where comments were invited on wgig.org
– transparency of organization
– Multi-stake holder (including business and civil society)
– open consultation
– closed door semi-Chatham House rules
– can use statements made by others but no attribution to any person

WGIG Approach
1. multilateral, transparent, democratic
2. full involvement of govt, the private sector, civil society and internetal org
3. addressing internet governance matters in a organized manner

What is Internet Governance?
– Not only about ICANN-related issues
– is more than law
– is not simply govt activities
– includes social norms, markets, architecture
– should be transparent
– governance is beyond government, and should include privae sector and civil society

Internet Governance Process is as important as substance
– allowing stake holders to participate on an equal footing

Four Clusters of Issues
– Physical Infrastructure: IP addressing, DNS
– Use of Internet: Spam, Network Security, Cybercrime
– Issues related to internet but on wider issues
– Internet development issues

WGIG forum
– Under United Nations
– Lightweight
– No decision making power (prevents deadlocks)